Figures lie. Liars Figure.
Donald Trump received 32.4% of the vote in South Carolina last night. Given his commanding lead in “the polls”, his non-stop coverage on most forms of media in this country, and access to a limitless ocean of money, it was a rather plonking night for him. Some polls had him up over 40%, and this final result was underwhelming in a primary state that consistently sends Lindsey Graham to the senate, and, until very recently, had the racist Earnest Hollings as it’s governor.
EVERYTHING he won last night, especially as it relates to exit poll surveys, was by small plurality.
He didn’t “win” evangelical Christians. He didn’t “win” conservatives. He got, at most, by definition 32.4% of them. That is a small plurality– which means 67.6% voted for someone other than the detestable Donald Trump.
It also means he would have LOST in every other contested South Carolina primary since 1980: For comparison, let’s look at the leaders in the non-incumbent, “uncontested” GOP South Carolina Primary going back to Reagan in 1980:
1980: Ronald Reagan: 55%, John Connolly: 30%, George HW Bush: 15%
1988: George HW Bush: 49%, Bob Dole: 21%, Pat Robertson: 19%, Jack Kemp: 11%
1996: Bob Dole: 45%, Pat Buchanan: 29%
2000: George W. Bush: 53%, John McCain: 42%, Alan Keyes: 5%
2008: John McCain: 35%, Mike Huckabee: 29%, Fred Thompson 16%, Mitt Romney 15%
2012: Newt Gingrich: 40%, Mitt Romney 27%, Rick Santorum: 17%, Ron Paul: 11%
…kinda makes 32% look a bit, well, sparse.
Donald Trump is hated, and I mean with a white-hot searing passionate visceral hatred. His negatives are stratospheric– over 70% of all voters have at least SOME negative regard for the man. No one gets elected with this sort of data-point.
So, what is the Trump Phenomenon? Quite simply, he is Ross Perot running as a Republican– and, he is enthralling the same, narrow constituency: Mildly ill-informed, casually engaged, non-partisans who despise Washington and politicians or all stripes. They have no core values beyond a middling ignorance for how our democratic institutions function, and chalk it all up to “oh, they are all a bunch of liars and crooks”.
These sad citizens don’t know the basics of civics, and get ornery when you ask them questions about policy and world-view because it masks their ignorance, for the most part. Nationalism, my foot. Out and out stooopid ignorance, is more like it.
The TrumPerot constituency is roughly 20-25% of the general electorate. No more. They will come out of all political parties. Add about 10% of various racist Neanderthals, conspiracy kooks, malcontents and other odds and ends and dregs from the bottom of the typical Republican barrel, and there you have it: Trump Mania.
But, it will never –never– scrape 40%.
Gird your loins. This is far –FAR– from over.